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New Study Proves Importance of Safe Gun Storage and Need to End Family Fire

Washington, D.C., May 13, 2019 — Today, a new study was released showing that family fire is indeed one of the single greatest contributors to firearm injuries and death in children. Family fire is a shooting that involves an improperly stored or misused gun found in the home that results in injury or death. The study, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, used 2015 household data on gun ownership to show that if parents had safely stored their guns at home, up to a third of gun suicides and unintentional deaths among children and teens could have been prevented. The national gun violence prevention organization Brady noted the significance of the study and the urgent need to educate the public to end family fire.

Brady VP of Programs Kyleanne Hunter stated,

“Every day, eight children and teens are unintentionally shot and injured or killed by family fire. We must do everything possible to prevent these tragedies. This study is proof that there are clear solutions to preventing these tragedies — and those solutions are the very basis of Brady’s End Family Fire program. The program details easy, everyday steps, including safe gun storage, that each of us can take to prevent tragedies stemming from unsecured or unsupervised guns at home. If we can convince just one family to safely store their firearms and avoid a tragedy, then it’s well worth it.”

The study used 2015 data to create a model predicting the probability of various outcomes. It compared the actual fatalities from that year — 782 children and teens were shot and killed by family fire — to show what might have happened had more homes safely stored guns. Researchers found that:

  • If 10 percent more households with children had locked up their guns, 50 more teens and children would be alive today;
  • If 20 percent had locked up their guns, 99 more would be alive today; and
  • If 50 percent had locked up their guns, 251 more would be alive today.

The study also found that safely stored guns would have prevented between 235 and 323 fatal and nonfatal family fire incidents.

In seeking to put a name to the preventable tragedies that occur when an unlocked or unsupervised gun is misused, the award-winning End Family Fire program has sought to reach out to gun owners to have a responsible, productive conversation on the issue. “Family fire,” a term developed to increase understanding and awareness of the preventable issue, refers to a shooting involving an improperly stored or misused gun found in the home that results in death or injury. Incidents may include unintentional shootings, suicides, and other gun-related tragedies. The program aims to bring awareness to the issue of family fire, and encourages a national dialogue around responsible gun ownership and safe storage practices, which can help prevent further family fire-related tragedies.

Since its launch in August 2018, End Family Fire has already proven to be successful at reaching gun owners and increasing awareness around safe gun storage. Four in 10 gun-owning parents in America are aware of the program, and 50 percent of those parents have sought information about safe gun storage in the past year. The program has been recognized as “Best in Nonprofit” at the 2019 PRWeek Awards and won the 2019 Shorty Award for “Organic Promotion.”

Last month, Brady and the Ad Council released the program’s second public service announcement, “Kids Find Everything.” It follows the initial launch PSA, “Justin.”

To learn more, including tips for safe storage, advice for talking with your family about gun safety, and home protection alternatives, please visit Brady’s End Family Fire site.

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Brady has one powerful mission — to unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.


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